Meg-Mo swinging blades -- first impressions

  
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quicksandfarmer

quicksandfarmer

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Installation was simple -- lift the mower, take off the old blade with an impact wrench, put on the Meg-Mo. Here's one old blade and one Meg-Mo:

IMG_20210916_112216633.jpg


My mower is basic, it's a Husqvarna 42" lawn tractor. It has star-shaped spindles. The Meg-Mo was custom made but does not have star-shaped openings, instead it's a circle that fits over it. Part of me worries that it won't stay attached, but part of me recognizes that the star is a weak point on the spindle, it's made of soft metal and when it deforms the whole spindle has to be replaced. Time will tell.

I put the new blade on with an impact wrench. The disc is about 1/4" steel and it's pretty hefty, about 50% thicker than the blade it replaced. With the thickness of the disc and the fact that the swing blades hang down the cutting edge sits about 3/8" lower than before. I always mow in the highest position and often wish I could mow higher so we'll see if that's an issue.

One thing that was a little disappointing is that the blades don't swing 360 degrees, because of the wings they can only swing about 60 degrees from their cutting position.
 
  
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I did three tests. My place was a dairy farm for generations and then it was a sod farm for a while, grass grows really well here. However, to keep it grass it needs to be mowed at least once a year or it gets taken over by briars and eventually forest. I have five mowers that I regularly use -- a push mower, a rider mower, a flail mower, a drum mower and a rotary rough mower. If the grass goes more than a month or so without getting cut it gets so tough that only the rough mower and the drum mower can cut it, it jams and breaks the lesser mowers. I like to have mown trails through and around my hayfields, and I usually use the rider mower for that. As I noted in the other thread, so far this year I've broken two mower drive belts, three spindles, one mower pulley and two blades on the rider mower. That's pretty much all from overloading in tall grass. I've also pretty much given up on using the flail mower because it will jam in the tall grass and when that happens things break.

First test: this is a patch of grass that I mowed once in May and haven't since. It's not as tough as a spot that wasn't mowed all year, but it's pretty tough. It's hard to photograph grass but it's about 18" high, with seedheads. In my experience this would break a rider mower or a flail.
IMG_20210916_145636289_HDR.jpg


For comparison's sake, I did two passes with the rough mower and four passes with the rider mower with the Meg-Mo. Meg-Mo is on the left:
IMG_20210916_154335394_HDR.jpg


Closer up. It cut it all, but there is some striping . Notice that there are very few clippings on the Meg-Mo side, whereas the rough mower side is covered in clippings. It mulches a lot finer and throws the clippings a lot further.

I'm pleased, I frankly can't believe my little mower cut that stuff at all.

IMG_20210916_154342747.jpg
 
  
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Test #2: This was easier, this is a patch of grass my son had been mowing all summer until he left for school three weeks ago. So about three weeks worth of growth, maybe 9" tall:
IMG_20210916_112827550.jpg


Here's the after picture:

IMG_20210916_114926481_HDR.jpg


Looks like a lawn. It gives a nice cut, clippings are mulched. If anything it's a little shorter than I like. The mower is noticeably quieter than the old blades. When you first engage the mower it takes a second to come up to speed but after that it doesn't feel like it's straining.
 
  
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Test #3. This is the side of a hillside. This is the only spot that hasn't been mowed at least once this season, because I broke my rough mower on a hidden rock in here a few weeks ago. So it's tough grass plus some tall deciduous weeds:

IMG_20210916_151140692.jpg


Once again I did the rough mower and the Meg-Mo side by side. Rough mower is on the left in the after picture:

IMG_20210916_154502783.jpg


The Meg-Mo really kicked ass in this section. Note also the muddiness in the rough mower section. We had heavy rain last night, the ground was still wet, and the tractor and the rough mower really chewed things up, the lawn tractor was much gentler.

There was one point going up the hill where the lawn tractor didn't have enough traction to push through the tall grass and I had to back up, go around and get it from above. But there was also a spot where the tractor lost traction pulling the rough mower!
 
  
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You may notice there was something on the ground in the last picture. I tried to upload a picture but TBN is getting cranky. Anyway, it's a stick, a big mower-breaking stick. I ran it over with the Meg-Mo and didn't even know it was there until I went back to take the picture.

So overall I'm pleased. The blades do exactly what I wanted them to do, which is use my lawn tractor as a small rough mower. I'm thinking of getting one for the push mower too now.

The big question is durability, whether the blades will hold up, and whether I'll kill my lawn tractor (faster than I normally would). I'll see, and when I know you'll know.
 

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Thanks for the update (y) .
 

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Sorry Q/S-farmer and I don't mean to just sound critical, but from the 3rd picture in Post 6, it doesn't look to me like the Meg-Mo does a good job of cutting at all. It looks like the Meg-Mo just lays over the heavy grass rather than chopping it up like your rough mower.

I don't envy your task of keeping that stuff cut down though. I have a small patch, maybe 50' x 50' of it and find it's almost impossible to cut in one pass. In fact, I've already burned up the clutch in my Hus.54" mower once trying to do just that.

Can you tell me what causes the striping? I have that problem too, and would like to see a smooth cut all the way across.

Thanks for your post and the pictures.
 

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QSFarmer, a good flail mower with hammers wouldn't even know it was cutting any of that and it would cut it as low as you would want it to be cut. Most of that stuff is way more than you should be cutting with your mower. I have one question for the MM. Do they have mulching blades for that setup? I run mulchers on both of my JD ZTs.
 

LD1

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You are certainly testing them in a manner in which finish mowers werent designed.

My the nature of the short deck, and relying on the suction created by the blades....finish mowers just dont do well on tall grass. They tend to just lay it down and by the time it stands back up you are already beyond it so it takes several passes to accomplish what a rotary cutter can do.

MY understanding of the meg-mow blades were to replace blades in standard mowing applications....like your weekly mowing of a lawn.

The jury still seems out on just how good they are at replacing a standard blade. On dedicated mowing forums.....they dont seem to get much love. But I think half of that is people just resistant to change. Why try and fix what isnt broken. And I think the other half is simply the cost.

My opinion is they have the ability to leave a better cut and/or at a faster ground speed since you are effectively doubling the number of cutting surfaces. But Alot of guys (and I have done in the past) is simply stack two standard blades on each spindle.

MY concern is clutch life. Either with the MEG-mo's or double blades....there is alot more rotating mass to start and stop everytime the deck is engaged. But according to the professionals on dedicated lawn forums....some people are saying that there just isnt enough of a improvement to be worth the hassle. And some say they just dont stripe or distribute clippings as well.

For me the pet peeve would be the cutting height. It annoys the $hit out of me when the numbers on your mower height dont match reality. I have worked on toro, scag, exmark, bobcat, and kubota mowers. With few exceptions the running theme seems to be the mowers cut 3/4" closer than what the setting says. IE: set it at 4" according to the mower and actually measure it and its at 3-1/4. But they werent all exact. A few were 3/4" off, some were 1/4" off, some spot on, etc. Which makes it challenging when I services a dozen mowers for a landscape company. When they are set at "4".....they need to ALL cut the same height. Not really an issue for a homeowner, because they can use the number simply as a reference. But for a mow company.....trying to explain to the people actually mowing that "this" mower needs to be set at 4-1/2 and "that" mower needs set at 4, and that other mower needs to be 4-1/4, etc etc.

Some of the mowers had enough adjustment to make them spot on. Others didnt without other modification, like changing the thickness of blade spacers between the blades and spindles, or slotting the adjustment holes to give a little more travel.

On a mower like my scag.......in order to get it to read true (it was 3/4" off), the factor adjustment only allowed me to get 1/2". so I was still 1/4" off. So I shaved 1/4" off the spacer between the spindle and the blade. Switching to this blades would throw that off again. OR like if I could convince a mow company to buy these to "try" on a mower....now the deck calibration would no longer match the rest of the mowers in the fleet.
 

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The double blade thing has always eluded me. Stacked blades are effectively cutting the grass twice or the top blade is not cutting at all. So that blade is basically along for the ride and putting additional load on the mower. It's sort of like having a bush hog set up incorrectly with the front higher than the back making it cut twice.
 

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i strongly considered these, over a set of gators, my mother is a fanatic about clippings, starting to think i prolly should have got these, not thrilled about the lack of the star pattern, curious to see if that bolt is going to loosen or the assembly spin
 

LD1

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The double blade thing has always eluded me. Stacked blades are effectively cutting the grass twice or the top blade is not cutting at all. So that blade is basically along for the ride and putting additional load on the mower. It's sort of like having a bush hog set up incorrectly with the front higher than the back making it cut twice.
The double blade has a few advantages.

1. with one blade higher than the other....you are effectively making the clippings smaller. Dont think of it as the top blade not cutting at all. Rather the top blade cuts the grass higher than you want, then the lower blade cuts it again. ITs like mowing the lawn once, then dropping the deck a notch and mowing it again, just in one pass instead of two.

2. More blades also means more suction if you have a grass that dont like to pop back up after it is ran over

3. What the lower blade cuts and gets tossed up, the upper blade comes around and makes it a bit smaller.

4. If you have ever mowed too fast and leave strips uncut, or the dreaded dandelions or buckhorn plantains that like to duck and pop back up after you have passed unless going real slow....double blades help tremendously.

I used to mow exclusively with double blades when I had a tough to mow lawn, with wirey grasses and weeds. Yes its additional load on the mower and harder on the clutch. I have slowly been working on the lawn to rid it of noxious weeds and the issues I was using double blades for. So now I am just back to grass.

Same with the bushhog. Sometimes it IS desirable to mow with the back lower so you get a double cut and finer clippings and a nicer appearance. Just depends on the job. To each his own
 

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i strongly considered these, over a set of gators, my mother is a fanatic about clippings, starting to think i prolly should have got these, not thrilled about the lack of the star pattern, curious to see if that bolt is going to loosen or the assembly spin
I dont think lack of star pattern is an issue. MOST commercial mowers just have a round hole and rely only on bolt clamping force. The star pattern or blades that have an index pin are usually something only seen on residential grade mowers.

The commercial mowers do usually use a 5/8" fine thread bolt. I wonder if the retaining bolt is smaller and has less clamping force in spindles that use a star pattern??
 

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Which blade cuts first is dependent on which one gets to that particular blade of grass first. I run mulchers so I don't have any clippings or discharged grass.
 

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Thanks for your testing. Please update this thread as you continue to use them. Are there sharpening instructions with them?
 

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Thanks for the interesting review. I have been contemplating a double blade test for some time and plan to make something similar to the megmo for testing one day using disk mower blades.

I also don't think the round hole is an issue. I made a set of blades to use .155 push trimmer string on a rider years ago and did the same thing they did. I bored a round hole that fit neatly over the star and never had a problem with them coming loose. BUT that had the large strings instead of long blades. It gave me the ability to cut higher grass and weeds than I could with blades but didn't produce a quality cut. Both my JD F725 and my Agmate finish mowers just use round holes in the blades.

IMG_1992.JPG


I recently put a couple of disc mower blades on a saw blade to run on a push string trimmer. That setup did very well and I was able to cut stuff up to 1/2" with no problem. The way I have that mounted it cuts right at ground level which was fine for what I was doing. I pretty much mowed the areas I was working down to bare dirt. I put a link to that project in your other thread.

The next time I mow I am going to stack two blades on my finish mower. I am planning to square them and tack weld them to prevent any misalignment from happening.

I have bought enough disc mower blades to make a set of 4 blade cutters for my finish mower. I haven't made a final plan if I am going to use two cross bars or cut circles like the MM blades. I got a quote for having precision circles water jetted but it was going to cost more than I want to invest in a test. I made a circle guide to use with my plasma cutter I am going to try out and see if I can make balanced enough plates for this project. I am using flat disc mower blades that can spin 360 degrees.
 

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Meg-Mo blades on anything but a zero turn are okay at best. I bought a set for my BX 60” deck. They never left a clean cut. They’d leave small windrows if cut grass. I don’t think the blade tip speed is high enough. After spending $150 on them, they don’t even look good hanging on my barn post.
 
  
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Sorry Q/S-farmer and I don't mean to just sound critical, but from the 3rd picture in Post 6, it doesn't look to me like the Meg-Mo does a good job of cutting at all. It looks like the Meg-Mo just lays over the heavy grass rather than chopping it up like your rough mower.


Can you tell me what causes the striping? I have that problem too, and would like to see a smooth cut all the way across.

Thanks for your post and the pictures.

It's hard to capture in pictures what's happening with the grass. I would say the Meg-Mo does about the same job on that grass as the rough mower, it cuts it about 6" high. The difference is the rough mower lays the clippings down on top of it but the Meg-Mo shoots them quite far -- like up to 15'. So the Meg-Mo side looks a lot more uneven. Grass that tall starts to grow in clumps so it's never going to look like a lawn when it's cut short.

I'm pretty sure the striping is caused by the swing blades retracting somewhat as the deck clogs with clippings.
 
  
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quicksandfarmer

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QSFarmer, a good flail mower with hammers wouldn't even know it was cutting any of that and it would cut it as low as you would want it to be cut. Most of that stuff is way more than you should be cutting with your mower. I have one question for the MM. Do they have mulching blades for that setup? I run mulchers on both of my JD ZTs.

I guess everyone's experience is different. I have a 68" flail mower with hammers. It has three problems with tall grass:

1. On any mower, if the grass is taller than the length of the deck it doesn't all get cut. The grass gets pushed over by the front of the deck and is still being held down when the stalk reaches the rear of the deck. My flail is only about 18" long so anything over 18" tall it has trouble cutting. My only mower that doesn't have this issue is my drum mower, which doesn't have a deck.

2. In heavy grass the flail mower has trouble clearing the clippings. Eventually they will accumulate and clog the mower. The flail has very little airflow to move clippings.

3. When my grass is tall it is very strong and wiry. It will wrap around the rotor of the flail mower and jam it.

When the mower jams -- items #2 and #3 -- it's very bad. Belts burn up in a hurry and bearings aren't far behind. I just don't take the flail mower into tall grass because it's not worth the risk of damage. That's true of all of my lawn mowers, the only mowers I will take into really tall grass are the rough mower and the drum mower, it's just too easy to break them. But with the Meg-Mo I can take the lawn tractor into the tall stuff and I don't feel like I'm in danger of breaking it. Time will tell whether I'm justified in feeling that way.
 

LD1

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That's true of all of my lawn mowers, the only mowers I will take into really tall grass are the rough mower and the drum mower, it's just too easy to break them. But with the Meg-Mo I can take the lawn tractor into the tall stuff and I don't feel like I'm in danger of breaking it. Time will tell whether I'm justified in feeling that way.
Are you saying its too easy to break your rough cut mower? So much so that you would rather take a lawn mower in heavy grass? Sounds like you need a new heavier duty rough cut mower
 

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I guess everyone's experience is different. I have a 68" flail mower with hammers. It has three problems with tall grass:

1. On any mower, if the grass is taller than the length of the deck it doesn't all get cut. The grass gets pushed over by the front of the deck and is still being held down when the stalk reaches the rear of the deck. My flail is only about 18" long so anything over 18" tall it has trouble cutting. My only mower that doesn't have this issue is my drum mower, which doesn't have a deck.

2. In heavy grass the flail mower has trouble clearing the clippings. Eventually they will accumulate and clog the mower. The flail has very little airflow to move clippings.

3. When my grass is tall it is very strong and wiry. It will wrap around the rotor of the flail mower and jam it.

When the mower jams -- items #2 and #3 -- it's very bad. Belts burn up in a hurry and bearings aren't far behind. I just don't take the flail mower into tall grass because it's not worth the risk of damage. That's true of all of my lawn mowers, the only mowers I will take into really tall grass are the rough mower and the drum mower, it's just too easy to break them. But with the Meg-Mo I can take the lawn tractor into the tall stuff and I don't feel like I'm in danger of breaking it. Time will tell whether I'm justified in feeling that way.
I have no idea what kind of flail you have but I have a Maschio 10' reverse rotation flail with hammers that has none of the issues you listed. I cut all of my grass at 1.5" to 2" and the flail does as good a job as my 2 ZTs or the 20' finish mower. The flail will also cut the tickest material you can put thorough it and it doesn't clog or wrap. It has air flow but doesn't really need it because it mulches everything.
 
  
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Are you saying its too easy to break your rough cut mower? So much so that you would rather take a lawn mower in heavy grass? Sounds like you need a new heavier duty rough cut mower
"Them" refers to lawn mowers. To break the rough cut mower I have to hit a rock, just right.
 
 
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